Action was taken by the Assembly in passing two veterans’ legislative initiatives supported and sponsored by 9th District Legislators Senator Christopher J. Connors, Assemblyman Brian E. Rumpf and Assemblywoman DiAnne C. Gove.
The first measure, ACR-177, contains the recommendations issued by the Veterans’ Hospital Task Force, which Senator Connors and Assemblywoman Gove served on, for a comprehensive plan for expanding health care access for military veterans living in the southern part of the state.
The bipartisan Concurrent Resolution urges the federal Department of Veterans Affairs’ to take appropriate action to expand health care access for military veterans living in the southern part of the state.
The second measure, SCR-11, proposes a constitutional amendment that, if approved by the voters, would allow bona fide veterans’ organizations, registered with the New Jersey Legalized Games of Chance Control Commission and licensed by a municipality, to use the net proceeds from existing games of chance (such as bingo, lotto, or raffles) for the support of their organizations.
Currently, the net proceeds of such existing games of chance are allowed to be used only for educational, charitable, patriotic, religious or public-spirited purposes. Presently, only senior citizen associations or clubs may use the net proceeds of existing games of chance to support their organization.
The 9th District Delegation issued the following statement subsequent to the advancement of ACR-177 and SCR-11:
“Improving access to health care for veterans living in South Jersey is of paramount importance to our Delegation. Under the current system, many veterans are forced to travel unreasonably long distances to VA facilities located in other states for basic medical treatment. In testimony provided to the Task Force, veterans remarked, in disbelief, on how they would literally drive by local hospitals while on an hours-long VA bus trip to a facility located in another state or in northern Jersey.
“After realizing that construction of a VA Hospital in South Jersey was unlikely, the Veterans’ Hospital Task Force turned its focus to advocating for portability of health insurance. This emerged as a more realistic and attractive option whereby veterans could receive medical care from local non-VA facilities as a more immediate means of addressing inadequacies under the current system.
“The Resolution calls for a pilot program to be established by the federal government to give area veterans greater access to local medical centers. Atlanticare, the Bacharach Institute of Rehabilitation, Cape May Regional Medical Center, the Virtua System, Shore Memorial Hospital, the Inspira Health Network, and the Meridian Health Care System are among the hospitals that have formally expressed interest in participating in the program.
“Another pressing veterans’ issue is the ability of veterans’ organizations to be better able to sustain themselves financially. Veteran organizations’ local posts remain a first point of contact for many veterans and their families throughout the state who are in need of assistance or are looking to become actively involved with the organization. Allowing veterans’ organizations to utilize funds raised through games of chance, such as bingo, would provide much needed financial relief, such as covering increasing utility costs. The timing of this legislation is appropriate as more servicemembers return home from overseas deployment and some local veterans’ posts were damaged by Super Storm Sandy.”